Conflict and Policy Assessment Framework

Primary purpose

Conflict analysis and early warning, with a view to developing conflict prevention policy strategy

Intended users

Donor desk officers, including embassy staff. It mainly addresses foreign policy and development issues

Levels of application

Country and sectoral levels

Conceptual assumptions

The Conflict and Policy Assessment Framework (CPAF) helps to analyse the conflict or stability sensitivity of countries by assessing the role of a number of specified indicators. The assessment will provide information on indicators that (potentially) have a destabilising effect or can put a country at risk. The use of trend lines per indicator will also emphasise whether certain indicators are areas of persistent difficulty, suggesting that more attention could/should have been devoted to these in the past. The assessment will also bring into focus the volatility of the situation and identify indicators and areas on which to focus from the perspective of limiting risks to the sustainability of peace or stability.

Within the framework of the CPAF, Clingendael uses the “Analytical Model of Internal Conflict and State Collapse” developed by the Fund for Peace (1998), for the conflict assessment part. This model uses indicators of internal conflict and state failure. In this approach, internal conflict is caused by state failure, not the other way round.

Main steps and suggested process

Steps for conflict analysis

1. Trend analysis (Fund for Peace indicators)

2. Analysis of problem areas (i.e. priority areas for policy response)

3. Conflict analysis paper (to establish response-oriented warnings).

Steps for policy analysis

1. Organisation’s capacity assessment (e.g. mandate, operational framework)

2. Toolbox assessment (policy instruments)

3. Policy assessment and lessons learned (of ongoing policies, including ex-ante peace and conflict impact assessment)

4. Assessment of the overall security context (partnerships, coalitions)

5. Strategic policy paper

In order to improve the aspect of shared analysis and cooperation with local partners, the CPAF works with a workshop format in which all participants (donor desk officers, embassy staff and local partners, both governmental and non-governmental) are guided through the first three steps of the CPAF. The participants assess the situation of a given country as regards the sustainability of peace and stability by applying the Fund for Peace methodology, develop the latest trend line, and assess the range of policy options for addressing the areas that are flagged on the basis of the analysis.

The workshop provides the participants with an opportunity to engage in a dialogue on the assessment of the situation, as well as the policy options.

During the workshop the participants are divided into several groups to assess the twelve indicator trend lines. The findings are discussed in a plenary session with a moderator. Based on this plenary session, the overall trend and problem indicators are established.

In the next step, participants are divided into working groups with particular expertise, in order to focus discussions and to come up with adequate suggestions for addressing the problems that were identified.

The workshop results in a warning dispatch that highlights the potentially destabilising trends, as well as a list of options to address or reverse these trends. The implications for specific donors are discussed in a separate meeting.

Guiding questions / indicators

On the basis of the Fund for Peace’s analytical model, top indicators on the national state level form a central part of the conflict trend analysis. These top indicators are:

  • Mounting demographic pressure
  • Massive movement of refugees or internally displaced persons
  • Legacy of vengeance-seeking group grievance or group paranoia
  • Chronic and sustained human flight
  • Uneven economic development along group lines
  • Sharp and/or severe economic decline
  • Criminalisation and/or delegitimisation of the state
  • Progressive deterioration of public services
  • Suspension or arbitrary application of the rule of law and widespread violation of human rights
  • Security apparatus operates as a “state within the state”
  • Rise of factionalised elites
  • Intervention of other states or external political and/or economic actors

Each top indicator is further specified by three to six measures, which are linked to “potential aspects of conflict” and “problem areas”.

Required resources

The main resources required relate to the organisation of the workshop and include preparatory research and workshop material development, as well as the costs of travel, accommodation, etc., for external participants/consultants.

Lessons learnt

  • Carrying out the CPAF in a workshop format forced participants to be clear about developments and trends, and their potential implications and consequences if not addressed.
  • Although participants were generally aware of this, the use of ratings was an added value, as it gave some sense of urgency that allowed for the visualisation of positive or negative trends over time. The ratings were explained by using examples, thus making them more concrete.
  • In terms of policy, it became clear that some of the sectoral choices that have been made do not adequately relate to some of the identified trends from a conflict prevention perspective, this clearly needed improvement. On the other hand, the projects and activities that were carried out and planned in the sectors of choice could be focused on conflict prevention.
  • It was also clear that the overall political position of the Netherlands Embassy could be more critical in its political dialogue with the host governments.
  • The findings were also shared with other agencies (USAID and DFID) and it was found that they coincided. This provided opportunities for joint approaches.
  • In Rwanda, following this initial application, further follow-up is being planned with a view to basing future policies and programmes on the same CPAF analysis.

Commentary on the tool

The tool is currently being used in a field test phase by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It will be adapted to make it more easily applicable in the future. This mainly implies speeding up the analysis and the trend line development. It is considered to be flexible and adaptable and practical in a policy setting. The tool is not addressing the specifics of programmes or activities, but mainly focuses on strategic approaches for donors (overall programme development and policy approaches) from the perspective of conflict prevention. Its continued application for the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs is under consideration and will be decided upon in 2003.

Available reports

The CPAF report can be downloaded from the Clingendael website: